LAS VEGAS - The 25th annual Interop networking conference isn't the grand event it used to be.
In part that's because there are fewer vendors than there were five years ago, in part it's because manufacturers no longer hold product announcements for the show and in part it's the lingering effect of the recession.
Still, this year's edition, which started Tuesday, tried hard to carry on the old tradition.
Like all exhibitions, the volume from the booths in the trade show was sometimes overwhelming as amplified demonstrators tried to make themselves be heard.
The catchwords were cloud, fabric and virtualization.
Still, Steve Brown, product marketing manager at Network Instruments, which makes network monitoring solutions, did notice that more people this year came to his booth talking about project they're working on. Last year, he said, many would have asked what the company does and then moved on.
Maybe that's a sign the North American economy is strengthening.
"I dont' know if there's less people here [than last year] or more," said Andre Kindness, enterprise networking analyst at Forrester Research, "but there's a lot more buzz and energy. It seems like its the transformation that's going within networking -- there's a lot of new protocols and virtualization is really changing [networking]. All of the vendors have come out with new products to answer to that, so there's a lot of energy between the vendors."
What he found most notable on the first day were the crowds around a demonstration of OpenFlow, an open technology for software defined networking.
The standard has yet to be finalized, but its backed by many networking companies who see it as a way of extracting intelligence from networks, possibly with servers and applications making decisions about an organization's network.
Kindness isn't sure that's where networking is going, but what he likes is that OpenFlow and the work of the Open Networking Foundation could be a catalyst for new ideas and new products.
"It's disruptive point in the evolution of networking," he declared, "in that it's going to force networking as a whole to be much more integrated and co-ordinated with other parts of the [IT] infrastructure."
Elsewhere, manufacturers were making product announcements. Here's a few that caught my eye:
--Extreme Networks Inc. revealed its Open Fabric architecture and data center solutions, data center switches that allow organizations to build highly scalable, mobile and virtualized networks.
The first are the BlackDiamond X8, a 20 Terabit modular chassis that can have up to 768 non-blocking 10GbE ports or 192 non-blocking 40GbE ports in 1/3rd rack, and the Summit X670 top-of-rack switches with up to 64 ports of wire speed 10 GbE or 48 ports of wire speed 10GbE with four ports of 40GbE uplinks.